Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Writing on the Cheap"

Question: What is one reason for students in college not writing very well?

Answer/Quote: “Brigham University English professor Kristine Hansen met two colleagues recently, one from the history department, the other from biology. Both had the same question for her—a question she says she and other composition instructors nationwide hear repeatedly. ‘Why don’t our students write very well?’ ” P. 11.

“Hansen believes one reason is the increasing trend among today’s college students to bypass traditional first-year composition courses. Instead students earn credit while still in high school via Advanced Placement Tests, International baccalaureate degrees, or dual-enrollment programs—and then never set foot in an English classroom again.” P. 11.

“Writing is something we’ve tried to do in this country on the cheap.”

One Solution to the Problem: “Students who have taken the equivalent of first-year composition could be asked to take a more challenging course, where they’d write in different genres and writing about different subjects, so they could get better in writing and broaden their repertoires.” P. 13.

Comment: The AP Examination in writing is challenging. I find it hard to believe that students who pass it can’t write very well. Of course, what does “not write very well” really mean? Different teachers at both high school and college levels and in different disciplines can have different standards. But, as the author suggests, some sort of challenging carry-over writing course should be mandatory at the college level. RayS.

Title: “College Credit for Writing in High School.” Lorna Collier.  Council Chronicle: The National Council of Teachers of English (March 2011), pp. 11-13.

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